The first time I came to Mebane was also the first time I stepped inside of Martinho’s.
It was about noon, and as I was scheduled to have a job interview in the coming days in this funny little town, I thought I’d come get to know it.
Looking for lunch, I followed the trail of people heading into Martinho’s. Inside, I encountered a line that stretched nearly out the door.
What were all this people doing here, I wondered?
I wandered on, and found a different locale at which to eat.
It was weeks later when I first had a Martinho’s sandwich – it tasted great, and the price was right. I ventured back in a few days later, and continued to eat those sandwiches – usually the fried chicken one on the bun, lettuce, tomato, mayo – to my heart’s content.
Still, I wondered how so many people were coming in every day, attracted to the place like mice to cheese.
I was so naive then, back before I had ever even laid eyes upon the cheesecake case.
It was an otherwise uneventful day when I had been chatting with Lou Martinho and he led me back to the case, tucked back away from the flow of foot traffic.
“You want a piece of cheesecake?” Lou asked.
So innocent, so accommodating.
“What kind of cheesecake you got?” I asked, my interest piqued by the half dozen glimmering objects now fully consuming my attention.
One year, and countless pieces of cheesecake later, I can now tell you, faithful reader, what I wish I knew then: Lou Martinho is trying to kill us all, making the most delicious cheesecake imaginable so easy to eat that you just might overdose on lactose if someone doesn’t stop you from your third or fourth piece of the day.
It starts with a sandwich here, a sweet tea there. Maybe you have a cookie or two – oh, gosh, those cookies are so incredible – and before you know it you are sneaking Snickers-flavored cheesecake back to the office underneath your jacket so that your co-workers don’t judge your bad habits.
I try to show some resolve – I’ll just have a salad today, I think to myself, or a sandwich with some tater tots, and before I know it I’m in the lone alley-way along Clay Street eating pumpkin cheesecake with my bare hands, shooting glances in either direction with the laughable notion that I can retain some trace of dignity if I remain unseen.
Recently, Lou himself asked me to do a review of his cheesecake. He probably did not think I would turn it into a confessional, or worse still, an expose into the cruel nature of Lou’s business.
Against my best efforts to shrug him off, he sent me home with not one, but two pieces of cheesecake – the bites just as euphoric as the first time I ever tried his sweets.
So here is your review, Lou: I would give your cheesecake two thumbs down, but I’m a little occupied shoving another piece of it in my mouth.
Maybe when I’m done with this one I’ll come tell you how I really feel, and pretend like I’m not just coming to stare at the cheesecakes, like I’m not gonna buy another piece ever again.